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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Eleven Plus Relationships

Most parents will be able to remember when their Eleven Plus child first started talking. Mothers and fathers will recall every syllable and every utterance. Of course most of our Eleven Plus children will have been talking early. Later on some will have been able to sing or hum little tunes.

One thing that distinguishes humans from all other creatures on earth is the ability of humans to sing together in tune. Other animals and primates can make music – by calling or beating or stamping. But humans have the ability to sing to a steady rhythm.

I remember seeing the Opera Aida when I was a child. It was set outside in the open air in a football stadium. There were even camels to add realism and authenticity. Aida, as you will recall, was about love and passion in Ancient Egypt. It was sung, of course, in Italian but that did not seem to matter as the story unfolded.

It does seem strange that a very `worthy’ performance was seen by no more than around twelve thousand people each night while the Eurovision Finals will be seen by millions. In many of the Eurovision songs there will be small groups singing in tune and to a set rhythm. We will vote for the most harmonious songs and the most fetching looking humans.

For generation parents have been using song to help their children acquire complex language patterns. Take for example the words and rhythms with the song: `Dr Foster went to Gloucester’.

Dr Foster went to Gloucester
In a shower of rain
He stepped in a puddle
Right up to his middle
And never went there again.

Most Eleven Plus children will remember your explanation that the poem is really about a king being stuck in a puddle – and deciding, in a huff, never to return to the town. Most parents will be able to sing the words and remember the tune and the rhythm of this nursery rhyme.

All this is to suggest that when the going gets tough with your most precious Eleven Plus child you could try a little communal singing. You don’t want your child to behave like a love torn Pharaoh or a huffy king. You may also, for one reason or another, not choose for your child to look and sound like some of the rather strange looking Eurovision finalists.

You may, however, be able to build a comfortable relationship based on music – especially if you are singing together. I would be grateful to hear from any sets of Eleven Plus children and Eleven Plus parents who have been able to forge a new relationship based on a little local sing song.

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